Celebrating Winter Solstice 2017

sunrise-1756274_1920Here we are, December 21, 2017, the shortest day of the year or the longest night depending on how you look at it.  For centuries ancient peoples have celebrated this event.  It is a time of reflection and hope.  The light will be returning again.  It is no accident that Roman Emperor Constantine in 336 AD chose Christ’s birth to be celebrated around this event.  Before this date, there was no history of Christmas being celebrated, but there were festivals around the Winter Solstice. (For an interesting history of Christmas click here).

My long-time women friends and I had our annual gathering yesterday.  We shared a meal, poetry, and stories together.  As usual, it was lovely.  Here is a poem I wrote for the event…

THE LONGEST NIGHT

The pages turned

one by one

and we’ve arrived at the end again

to the longest night, the chill of December

finding its way through our thick clothing

 

It is in these darkest days

we find each other

gathered in the warmth of our homes

sitting around cheery tables and sparkling trees

enjoying the warmth of the hearth

leaving what we cannot control to its fate.

 

Revel in the music

Enjoy the fruits of the kitchen

Marvel in the twinkle of the colored lights

Rest

For the flowers lay sleeping

beneath their earthen quilts

waiting to be tended

when the light finally returns

again.

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by Alanna Pass

 

 

An Irish Midsummer’s Eve

sunset BallyvaughnHumanity around the world has its differences in what holidays are celebrated.  The one thread that unites us is the changing of seasons.  Most cultures have some kind of observance for the seasonal markers around the equinoxes and solstices such as it Harvest, Halloween, Day of the Dead, Christmas, Hanukah, Easter & so forth.   In Northern climates, the Summer Solstice, or Ballyvaughn ChurchMidsummer’s Eve is cause for celebration. On the longest day of the year, there is a little magic & love is in the air.

Ireland is no exception.  On this Midsummer’s Eve, we attended aChoir Ballyvaugn most lovely event, a choral concert in the local church in the village of Ballyvaughan put on by the Lismorahuan Singers.  In the choir were the smiling faces of numerous local faces we had gotten to know during our week long stay there. What a perfect way to spend our last night in Ireland- worthy of a poem.

A MIDSUMMER’S EVE

The earth groaned as it rounded

The final point of its orbit

The sun shone brightly into the hours

Of this shortest night

It claimed its final victory over darkness, this year

And as it did, the flowers bloomed

The faeries danced

And the choir lifted their voices in song

Wrapping their chorus around our hearts

Filling us with strength for the slow waning of the light

To come day by day

In the weeks and months before us

But here, now, we are illuminated fully

Let us celebrate the fruits of summer

& bask in the power of the sun’s rays

On this magical Midsummer’s Eve